Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cutting out the self-harm.

Like most of those who self-harm, I started hurting myself as a teenager. I would use whatever sharp object I could find to cut myself. It started off as minor cuts, then rapidly escalated towards the end of my teen years.

Why did I start self-harming? Well, to be honest, I couldn't, and can't, pinpoint a reason. I had the usual teenage angst, the usual problems, the usual neuroses, but mixed with a great big helping of self-hatred and (then undiagnosed) clinical depression.

A lot of people remember exactly when they started self-harming, and what it felt like. I cannot. I just remember realising how it seemed to help. I used sharp items to scratch and cut. I never burned myself, or bruised myself - the cutting was the focus. My left arm was the site of most of my cutting, as it was easiest to cut, and easy to hide.

I didn't enjoy the pain of the cutting, per se, but the adrenaline rush was amazing, and the aftermath was really the point of it. I liked the blood, and the scarring. I'd run my fingers over the scabbing, secretly, and it would reassure me. I'd feel like I had something I could concentrate on. Something that was mine.

Forgive me if I seem to romanticise it a little. Like alcoholism and eating disorders, self-harm is something that most people never truly recover from. It lurks there in the back of your mind, whispering to you.

When I met Matt, ten years ago, I was pretty much at my worst. My arm was cross-hatched with deep scars and fresh cuts. Matt hated it. When I ended up in hospital after a suicide attempt, the doctors were horrified by the state of my arm.
I was totally blindsided by their reaction. My arm wasn't abnormal, was it?

So, gradually, I started self-harming less. Matt was unbelievably supportive, and he didn't chide me if I relapsed. And I have relapsed, multiple times. Mostly when I'm in the midst of another wave of depression. But it happens less and less often, the more years pass. I haven't cut myself in 2009. I'm not going to pretend that I'm cured, that I'll never do it again. But I have to take one day at a time.

My arm is permanently scarred. The upper arm, where I cut myself deepest, has quite obvious scars, and the lower arm is criss-crossed with hundreds of thin white lines. I have a five-inch-long scar on my thigh which is, thankfully, fading. I have to live with this.

Do you know what prompted me to write this? Jokes.

I am sick of self-harm being a 'hilarious' punchline. I am sick of people being labelled 'emo' or 'attention-seekers' for self-harming.

It's not a laugh. It's not a punchline. It's a horrible, dangerous, miserable condition. I should know.

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At 6:41 am, Blogger Shawna said...

I've never heard any "jokes" about self-harming ("emo" yes, but only about the fashion, not about a depressed personality), and I hope I never do.

I'm sorry that cutting yourself was the way you found to help yourself feel in control (does that make sense?), but I'm glad that you're not feeling the need to do so. In the short time I've been on the MoH, and reading your blog, I've come to think of you as a friend, one I'd very much like to meet in person one day. I think you're funny, smart, clever, kind, and all the myriad other things that make a good friend. We don't share all the same opinions, or the same faith, but I like to think you're a kindred spirit. :)

And, now that I'm tearing up a bit because I want to hug you and can't, I'm going to go for now. *hugs* again :)

At 11:09 am, Blogger Smerk said...

I'm glad that Matt's so very supportive. And I'm also happy to hear that you're having a good year so far and not feeling the need to self harm.

It's also nice to have your views as to why you undertake such actions, rather than just getting information from "experts" who are only making assumptions on the information that they're provided with.

At 4:07 am, Blogger Tru said...

Thank you for sharing this. It took courage. You are a wonderful, beautiful person and I miss you!

At 12:35 pm, Blogger Nettie said...

You know I'm always here if you ever need to talk xxx

At 2:10 am, Anonymous Shar said...

We're all here for you
If you need us!


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